HOW can I make my mind up about a pub if the place can’t even decide what it’s called?
The Old Post Office in Eltham has undergone a sort of refurb and a kind of rebranding to become the Eltham GPO – except the signs outside don’t bear out this minor name change.
Is that for the ironic confusion it will cause postal workers? Answers on a post card.
Outside, the grand old building – guess what it used to be – is a looker, with red brick and fetching hanging baskets.
As I walked through the door, Blondie’s Atomic screamed from the speakers, which I found fitting because the inside did have a vaguely post-nuclear feel to it.
Pub company Antic have given the place a sort of makeunder, as is their style (see also the excellent Baring Hall Hotel), so that it resembles a cavernous squat.
Most surfaces appear to have been damaged in the name of shabby chic.
There’s tired floral wall paper, mismatched furniture and the gents is almost plasterless with dangling wires.
Elsewhere, there are exposed pipes, ugly nic nacs and dusty books.
What you make of this really depends on your outlook and your mood.
It is either edgy cool, run down or - worst of all - try-hard smart-arsed trendy nonsense.
What cannot be denied is that it gets a reaction. While I sat with my pint, a series of well-dressed folks wandered around like it was an open-house for a buy-to-let.
Behind the bar were an entirely pleasant hipster boy (scraggly beard) and an entirely pleasant hipster girl.
With fare like triple-cooked chips, salt beef brisket sandwich and ‘blowtorched rice pudding and macerated fruits’, the food is hard to resist even though it is painfully cool.
Thankfully, hipsters love to fuss over beer, which means you get a good selection at Eltham GPO.
You won’t find a stronger range than the half dozen ales, plus a bundle of exotic lagers and ciders on tap. Unusually, my excellent Meantime London Pale Ale (£3.90) represented a boring choice.
Sometimes it is trivial things which make all the difference to a pub. Without such a great playlist – The Who, The Clash, The Beastie Boys, Ray Charles and, er, NERD all came over the sound system while I was in there – I may have just thought the place needed the number of a good decorator.
How it rated:
Decor *** Jury’s still out
Atmosphere **** Both cool and chilled
Staff**** Friendly hipster folk
Drink***** I defy you to find a better range
Price*** Trendy comes at a price